Thursday, February 26, 2009

Orange Equity

As “The Essential Orange”, I watched the groundswell around the Tropicana packaging controversy with great interest. There are over 5000 blog entries, not to mention hundreds of tweets and a Facebook group all whinging about the package change. My conclusion – I wouldn’t want to be the Tropicana brand manager right now. Run!!! Change your profile on Linkedin!!

Kidding aside, here are my thoughts:

  • Don’t be arrogant - – when you have an iconic brand, your customers’ “own” it. You have to involve them in a more meaningful way. You ignore them at your own peril.
  • Baby boomers wear glasses – you have to help them find you on the shelf. Don’t confuse and frustrate them. The big orange on the old packaging stood out and the caps helped you differentiate between varieties quickly and easily
  • Baby boomers have discovered blogging – be creative in getting consumer insights. Look at what Eight O’Clock Coffee and Nestle are doing to involve their customers.
  • Be relevant – the package design project probably started over 18 months ago. Consumer sentiment has changed. The consumer in 2009 is …. “seeking comfort and security rather than status. Brands that hearken back to simpler, better times will do well. Nostalgic branding that speaks to old-world sensibilities will encourage consumers to do more with less”. Richard Brandt, Executive Creative Director, Landor New York.
  • Don’t mess with the orange – they did well here. The product and the carton sizing remain the same.

Curiously, no one gave Tropicana any credit for supporting "Save the Rainforest" or their efforts on reducing their environmental footprint, both of which are featured on their website with the new packaging.

Here’s an idea they could have pursued to involve loyal fans and receive recognition for doing good - let folks comment/vote on the new/old packaging and for their involvement, reward them by buying a piece of the rainforest in their name.

Sales Sour - update on impact of packaging change - update 4/3/09

After its package redesign, sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars. Now that the numbers are out, it's clear why PepsiCo's Tropicana moved as fast as it did. According to Information Resources Inc., unit sales dropped 20%, while dollar sales decreased 19%, or roughly $33 million, to $137 million between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22.

Several of Tropicana's competitors appear to have benefited from the misstep, notably Minute Maid, Florida's Natural and Tree Ripe. Varieties within each of those brands posted double-digit unit sales increases during the period. Private-label products also saw an increase during the period, in keeping with broader trends in the food and beverage space.

For posterity, I'm including a link to the interview with Peter Arnell, the head of the design firm that came up with the new look, with their rationale.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Great brands deserve great leaders

I want to thank everyone for their comments and emails to my last post, “Instant Controversy” - the introduction of Starbucks instant coffee.

I agree with most of the points raised, but perhaps we’ve all missed something important. Sometimes when a team is down, what you need is a win to build momentum. Starbucks has been battered by a string of losses. Jobs have been slashed and close to a 1000 stores closed. For those who remain, trust has been broken. Morale is at a historic low.

I’m not saying that the introduction of an instant coffee will bring back the magic, but it could serve as a rallying point for the people who make up Starbucks.

What Schultz needs to do is believe in his people once again, because it’s their creativity and hard work that’s given Starbucks the success it’s enjoyed. Howard Behar, one of Starbucks’ original thought leaders, often shared the belief that a great leader creates an environment where people can bring their “souls to work”. Just as a sports team can’t rely upon a single point or guard to carry the game, it’s the core and the motivation of the entire team that matters.

"The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves." - J. Carla Northcott

So when Schultz talks about getting back to the core, he should remember that the core is the people. And the people are the team.

Or as Howard Behar, also said…..It’s not about the coffee.

Great brands deserve great leaders.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Instant Controversy

Starbucks has launched an instant coffee - Via. Brand pundits are saying this is another signal of the brand’s demise. Many reminisce to the days when Starbucks brewed each cup by hand using the La Marzocco. Yet, Starbucks has been using “push button” technology now for years. Why? To improve product and service quality. The La Marzoccos were tricky to calibrate resulting in an inconsistent brew and in more down time that slowed customer service. The push-button machines, while not flawless, were more consistent and faster.

Most people, no offense, make a lousy cup of coffee at home. How many coffee drinkers do you know that actually grind their beans and stick the grounds in a coffee press every morning? And how many coffee drinkers know what the correct portion or grind are, store their coffee in an airtight container and ensure their beans are no longer than seven days old?? (My parents love Starbucks coffee but I shudder when I read the date stamps – of OPEN coffee bags still in use)

People love convenience. Via will finally provide all the coffee lovers out there who don’t want to fuss with coffee brewing or who don’t feel like getting dressed in the morning to grab a Starbucks, a pretty decent cup of coffee. And as long as it does not distract management from their immediate priority - fixing the retail business - a great innovation in a very "stale" category.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vitamin C for your team

Great brands and marketing strategies are not created in isolation – they are created by motivated and talented people. With teams decimated by lay-offs and fatigued by increased work-loads along with the pressure to deliver results, morale is at an all-time low. How can you keep your team motivated to deliver their best work?

The answer is to ensure you are being an effective leader and coach for your people. So how can you, on top of all the increased demands, make sure you are giving your team what they need?

A great article by Daisy Wademan Dowling in the HBS blog had some powerful tips that only take 15 minutes of your day.

  1. Turn dead time into development time. Walking back to your office after a meeting? Use those two minutes to give your direct report feedback on the presentation, and on how he could do better next time. He didn't have a speaking role? Ask him how he thought the meeting went and how he might have made certain points differently — and then offer feedback on that. Direct, in-the-moment feedback is your single best tool for developing people.
  2. Constantly spot dead time. Look for every two-minute stretch in your day during which you could be talking to someone else — most often, that's travel time — and convert each into a coaching opportunity. Walking down to Starbucks to get a coffee? Driving to the airport? Headed out to your car at the end of the day? Ask one of your people to come along with — and talk to them about their goals and priorities.
  3. Show up in their workspace. Employees expect you to stay in your seat. Don't. Once per day, get up and walk over to the desk of someone you haven't spoken to recently. Take two minutes to ask her what she's working on. Once she's done answering, respond "What do you need from me to make that project/transaction successful?" Message to employee: I know who you are, I've got high expectations — and I've got your back.
  4. Make two calls per day. On your way home from work, call (or email) two people you met with that day, and offer "feedforward." "I like what you've done with the Smithers account. Next time, let's try to keep marketing costs down. Thanks for your hard work." Always make "thank you" a part of the message. Employees who feel appreciated, and know that you're trying to develop their skills, stay engaged over the long run.
  5. Be Authentic. (I'm adding this # myself) Listen actively, ask questions and follow through if you've done #3 and offered your support. And above all else, be consistent.

With consistent (read: daily) use, these strategies will pay off. Your team will feel like you're not just their boss, but a coach that is there to help them succeed. In return, they'll sharpen their skills and stay motivated.

harvard business blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brands - the sticky factor

In my last post on t-Mobile's “Liverpool Station Dance” (aka flash-mob), one of the questions I asked was around the stickiness of the t-Mobile ad. Would viewers notice and, more importantly remember that it was a t-Mobile ad? Since then, I came across an interesting snippet from Martin Lindstrom who reports on brands for Ad Age. He did a piece on what works (or not), in large-scale advertising campaigns and presented some of the conclusions from a research project using “neuro-marketing” – a type of brain scan where participants are exposed to marketing and communications stimuli.

According to the results of this study in which 2000 people participated, it seems that most product placement and sponsorships do not work. For a brand to be effective, Lindstrom suggests, you need an integrated approach to storytelling. You also need to be relevant and consistent in your message in order to help consumers store brands in their long term memory.

To summarize, his key findings are as follows:

  1. Logos alone don’t create any consumer awareness and in fact can create consumer suspicion. This is bad news for the billboard industry or sponsorships that basically sell you ad space where your logo is a dominant part of the medium. (It seems the Pepsi folks aren’t aware of this research as they are relying heavily on outdoor to launch their updated “smile logo” with words like “Change”, “Hope” and “Yes you Can”)

In the t-Mobile spot, the logo is the last thing you see, almost like production credits with t-Mobile’s distinguishing jingle/sign-off. Very subtle but perhaps also very effective. It begs the question at the end of the Liverpool Station Dance video – who made this cool thing?? Thus allowing the viewer to discover the advertiser vs being bombarded with logos.

Guess who else is using this strategy? Hint: it starts with a G.

  1. Brands need to be put into a relevant context and you need to be consistent. The key, however, is that the storyline needs be told in an indirect way and the story needs to be incorporated into all you do – live what you say versus “all hat no cattle” as they say in Texas.

t-Mobile has created a powerful platform for “Life is for Sharing”. Isn’t it wonderful that you can capture a spontaneous moment and share it with your friends and family through the phone? And think about the cool ways they can build on this idea in an integrated and fun fashion.

  1. In-direct signals like colour, shapes and sound are more powerful memory triggers than logos. Ten out of ten for t-Mobile.

What about Pepsi?? (Not that I wanted this post to be a t-Mobile vs Pepsi discussion – Pepsi deserves it’s own post). Let it suffice to say that Pepsi has spent a ton of $$ launching the new logo as part of their “Refresh” campaign. I’m not sure that using words like “Hope” and “Change”, (words also heralded by the Obama campaign) are inspiring when juxtaposed besides a revamped Pepsi logo. And while the music track of the now infamous Super Bowl Pepsi ad is catchy, seeing a Dylan selling his once youthful and rebellious soul to a soft drink company feels a little like Joan Baez being the spokesperson for Sleep Number beds - incongruent in a "doesn’t sit right kind of way".

What do you think?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Yes........Life is For Sharing

click on image to view video

Today I received an email from my 82 year old dad. He sent a link to a video on YouTube which his good friend Hans (also in his 80’s) had forwarded to him. I clicked on the video, and it was the t-Mobile UK’s Dance (Life is For Sharing) at Liverpool Train station that has been a viral sensation since it aired on January 16th .

If you haven't seen the video: here it is!

Let’s look at some of the stats

  • there have been over 2.9 million impressions on YouTube and some 6500+ viewers cared enough to leave a comment
  • the video has ranked amongst the top 10 videos seen – on Feb 3 it was #3 – and this for an ad
  • the video has also been mentioned on over 26,900 blogs around the world

And the commentary has been incredibly positive, using words like “heartwarming”, “Restores your spirit” and “OPA! Meu primmeiro post”

All this for an ad by a phone company. Brilliant.

The ad broke through the clutter, taking “flash-mobbing” from guerilla to mainstream. Flash-mobs are not new (see history below), but t-Mobile is the first big brand to use the medium effectively. Interestingly, Home Depot and Best Buy have been flash-mobbed by “Improv Everywhere” ( back in 2006 in their stores, but the videos did not generate the viral impact that t-Mobile’s Dance has. And the brand & marketing folks from those big box stores did not see the potential to take the idea into the social and viral media the way t-Mobile's agency did.

The campaign is about getting people to engage in conversations and share stories by encouraging viewers to post camera videos on a YouTub website accompanying the ad. It hit the brand's bull'eye, "life is for sharing" spot-on.

When I asked my Dad why he liked the ad, he said “it makes you feel good and lets you still enjoy a moment where you can forget about the misery and chaos in the world today”. And it wasn’t just one person enjoying a moment, but it was the spontaneous combustion of joy that erupted over music and dance. The medium was viral so friends are sharing with friends.

No animals were used to create the dance – it was cruelty free and organic.

And finally, the ad is engaging – it lifts the spirit, it is both modern and nostalgic, appealing to universal youth – (80 year olds are in reality 20 year olds trapped in older bodies - or at least my parents are!). It has managed to connect with a variety of audiences in a fragmented media market.

It is refreshing to see how T-Mobile is tapping into the culture of today not by rehashing the Depression (like Allstate – and yah, I know it’s all about the values) but by bringing us a pure moment of joy. While brilliantly choreographed, it was the implied simplicity of song and dance, all very human and inspirational, that touched us.

So like any effective ad, it will be interesting to see how this campaign translates into additional users/sales for T-Mobile. With all the millions of impressions, did the brand name stick or was it purely “advertainment? (My Dad, for example, did not know it was a t-Mobile ad).

And what's next? It looks like there is huge upside for the brand to use spontaneity and video sharing as a viral platform to build phone usage (especially upsell to new/better/faster/richer media models).

Who knows - perhaps t-Mobile's "Dance" will inspire people to create their own flashmobs or random acts of joyful spontaneity.

Yes……life is for sharing.

Pure potential!

Background notes:

From Wikipedia:

A flash mob is a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse

Notable flash mobs:

Worldwide Pillow Fight Day

Worldwide Pillow Fight Day (or International Pillow Fight Day) was a pillow fight flash mob that took place on March 22, 2008. Over 25 cities around the globe participated in the first "international flash mob", which was the world's largest flash mob to date.[13] According to The Wall Street Journal, over 5,000 participated in New York City, Word spread via social networking sites, including Facebook, Myspace, private blogs, public forums, personal websites, as well as by word of mouth, text messaging, and email. Participating cities included Basel, Beirut, Boston, Budapest, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dublin, Houston, Innsbruck, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Monterrey, New York City, Paris, Pécs, Shanghai, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., Zurich.

Silent disco

Another example of a well known flash mob was the April 2006 silent disco in London. At various underground stations around London, people gathered with their portable music devices and at a set time all started dancing to their music. At the time this was by far the largest flash mob gathering by a considerable amount. It was reported at Victoria Station more than 4,000 people were in attendance. This impacted the regular service of the London underground system enough for the city's police to begin crowd control and slowly clear people. Though no one was arrested it was reported that the City of London pledged to counter future disruption of the underground system. Since 2006, there have been several flash mobs including subsequent silent discos, comparable in size, in the London underground.

t-Mobile “Dance” info

- Secretly filmed at Liverpool Street commuter Station at 11am

- 350 dancers

- Celeb Choreographer Ashley Wallen took the dancers through an intensive 80 hour rehearsal to ensure they nailed the performance as they could only film a single take.

- Commuters stand and watch in amazement as the routine gets going and many can be seen taking pictures on their phones still unaware of what is happening around them.

- The stunt happened at 11am and the crew had 36 hours to film, edit and get the piece to air which was premiered as a full ad break during Celeb Big Brother.

- Music played: LuLu's 1965 hit Shout, 'The Only Way Is Up' by Yazz, 'Don't Cha', Pussycat Dolls, 'The Blue Danube Waltz' by Strauss, Kool & The Gang's 'Get Down On It' , 'Since You've Been Gone' by Rainbow, 'My Boy Lollipop', Millie Small and 'Do You Love Me' by The Contours.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunkist - category and brand builder

When thinking about brands and oranges, of course the name Sunkist pops into mind. How did that brand come into being and be such a dominant name in citrus?? Well, doing a little research (and I have Douglas Cazaux Sackman, author of Orange Empire to thank), I uncovered some fascinating information.

Sunkist was a pioneer of category & brand building through integrated marketing. Once upon a time the orange was considered a luxury, something given as a cherished gift at Christmas time. Using innovative marketing techniques, Sunkist was able to turn the orange from luxury to daily consumable, and eventually, into one of the most recognized brands in the world.

Who is behind the Sunkist brand? It’s actually a cooperative of citrus growers from California and Arizona that was formed in 1893. Like most cooperatives, it was established to strengthen the power and improve the efficiency & profitability of producers. What made Sunkist unique was the vision and creativity of its marketing team which created a culture of orange consumption, built new markets and stimulated demand for the fruit.

The Sunkist orange was positioned as a product that provided the curative health benefits of vitamin c and the vitality, romance and restorative benefits of the California Eden-like environment. The theme of health and vitality was used consistently in advertising for decades. Educational narratives simultaneously raised fears of dietary deficiencies and offered the orange as a solution. The orange was deemed important for children and babies for the development of sturdy bones and strong teeth, packaged in a “germ-proof container”. The vitamin c inherent in an orange, it was claimed, played an important role in controlling fevers, pneumonia, flu and the common cold. Sunkist cultivated relationships with doctors and happily, they reinforced the message that oranges were needed every day to maintain good health.

Sunkist was also a leader in the science of marketing, using consumer insights and demographic data to shape their copy and campaigns. As early as 1916 they conducted consumer surveys door-to-door. By 1926, they pioneered ethnographic research, going into the homes of 15,000 homemakers to understand their beliefs and behaviors. They took these insights and integrated them into demographic data mapping and market segmentation charts.

Experts in integrated marketing, they understood the importance of creating brand impressions and reaching the consumer both in and out-of-store. They had a field marketing team that created alliances with retail chains, restaurants, hotels and soda fountain shops. They taught retailers how to create impactful and carefully arranged displays in shop windows and in the grocery aisle. As early as 1916, they had millions of pieces of marketing collateral in over 900 cities across the United States.

Prior to a major shipment of navel oranges, Sunkist would dominate a city visually with outdoor billboards, streetcar cards and window displays. These well-planned “campaigns” would also be supported with advertising in magazines and eventually through radio when that medium for advertising was made available in the late 1920’s.

Sunkist also found ways to engage with the consumer. They created poetry and essay contests, premiums and promotions. In exchange for six Sunkist wrappers, one could receive a silver spoon. Contests encouraged consumers to write about why they used the orange. Recipe books were published and distributed for free. Sunkist managed to get into school curriculum with text books, wall charts and colouring books that told the story of the orange. Pamphlets heralding the benefits of the orange were distributed through doctor’s offices.

The folks at Sunkist were motivated by what they believed was a societal mission to enhance people’s daily lives. Advertising became the vehicle by which they could spread their message and educate people about the health benefits of the orange.

After decades of consistent messaging, Sunkist achieved its goal of creating a daily habit of consuming an orange a day – whether by the juice or by eating the fruit whole. The Sunkist orange was of the highest quality, without blemish and uniform in size. In fact, when a severe frost in 2007 impacted the quality of the citrus crop, Sunkist sold the fruit to retailers under another trademark, “Pure Gold”, rather than risk tarnishing the brand’s reputation

Sunkist has become a global brand with its recognizable trademark on over 600 products in more than 45 countries. The brand’s halo of health and quality has been extended to many products, from orange juice to sodas and from vitamins to fruit snacks.

So what’s next for Sunkist? How do they plan to keep the brand fresh and relevant to the evolving consumer? How do they grow? How much further can they stretch the brand?

Linking it back to the brand principles of “The Essential Orange”:

Is it differentiated?

- Certainly everyone knows the benefits of the orange, but are consumers, especially younger consumers, seeking out the Sunkist brand and willing to pay a premium?

- How important is the connection to California. Can Sunkist risk extending its name and import citrus produce from Mexico or China, especially given recent food safety issues associated with these countries?

Are there functional and intangible benefits?

- One sees little Sunkist orange advertising – as opposed to that of the line extensions. How long can the brand live off the halo cast by decades of investment in quality, health and freshness messaging?

- Is the brand over-extended into packaged goods and other perishables like almonds and raisins? Are these accretive or dilutive to the brand?

Is it “green”?

- Will the pursuit of perfection, likely achieved through pesticides and non-organic farming methods, become less relevant to consumers looking for a healthful product as defined by farming practices versus aesthetics?

Is it engaging?

- One sees little advertising or promotions around Sunkist oranges.

- The website offer information on their history and recipes. There’s an interactive section for kids, but there isn’t a blog or an opportunity for people to engage with the brand directly

- Sunkist does have a cause-marketing campaign called “Take a Stand” that encourages kids 7-12 to raise money for charities by selling lemonade. Sunkist provides a complimentary lemonade stand to help kids with their efforts. Created in 2003, kids participating in the program have raised over $2.3 million. It’s a great program but how much brand equity does a program like this give the brand?

Interesting questions for the brand to ponder. Please share your thoughts.